Saturday, November 12, 2011

Morally blind visionaries

Debunking apostasy

Apostates from Christianity proudly view themselves as freethinkers. It's ironic, in this regard, to see how stereotypical their deconversion stories are:

The apostate typically represents himself having been introduced to his former allegiance at a time when he was especially vulnerable — depressed, isolated, lacking social or financial support, alienated from his family, or some other such circumstance. His former associates are now depicted as having prevailed upon him by false claims, deceptions, promises of love, support, enhanced prospects, increased well-being, or the like. In fact, the apostate story proceeds, they were false friends, seeking only to exploit his goodwill, and extract from him long hours of work without pay, or whatever money or property he possessed.
Thus, the apostate presents himself as “a brand plucked from the burning,” as having been not responsible for his actions when he was inducted into his former religion, and as having “come to his senses” when he left. Essentially, his message is that “given the situation, it could have happened to anyone.” They are entirely responsible and they act with malice aforethought against unsuspecting, innocent victims. By such a representation of the case, the apostate relocates responsibility for his earlier actions, and seeks to reintegrate with the wider society which he now seeks to influence, and perhaps to mobilize, against the religious group which he has lately abandoned.
Neither the objective sociological researcher nor the court of law can readily regard the apostate as a creditable or reliable source of evidence. He must always be seen as one whose personal history predisposes him to bias with respect to both his previous religious commitment and affiliations, the suspicion must arise that he acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim but subsequently to have become a redeemed crusader. As various instances have indicated, he is likely to be suggestible and ready to enlarge or embellish his grievances to satisfy that species of journalist whose interest is more in sensational copy than in a objective statement of the truth.

Professor Bryan Ronald Wilson is the reader Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Oxford.

Mormonism and illegal immigration

Papal succession

Don't be decoyed by that bogus Roman list. Here's the true papal succession:

Is God behind all the evil in the world?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Canadian care

Thoughts on the CNBC debate

Muhammad's interpretation of Surah 18:86

A Bryan Cross Make-Believe Fairy Tale Bait-And-Switch Story

Regarding Luther’s writings on The Theology of the Cross McGrath continues that … “it is important to appreciate the nature of the context” within which Luther was writing about these things. They date …
from a time when Luther’s life was widely regarded as being already forfeited [at the hand of the great, almighty and “infallible” Church”]. The shadow of the cross darkens the pages of [his work Operationes in Psalmos], as Luther wrestles with the relationship between the suffering of Christ upon the cross and those which he himself expected to undergo in the near future. Where was God in all this? It must never be forgotten that Luther was not speculating about the nature of God in the comfort of a university senior common room: he himself was under the threat of death for his theology, and in this very threat he saw a paradigm of the hiddenness of God’s self-revelation both in Christ and the Christian life. When Luther speaks of mors, tribulatio, passio, and so on, he speaks as one who believed himself to be close to experiencing them in their full terror, and as one who recognized in the grim scene at Calvary the fact that God had worked through such experiences in the past, and would work through them in the future.
I want to comment on the not-so-implicit arrogance that simply oozes from Bryan Cross’s Reformation Day article. He compares the Reformation to the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters (and there’s even a big picture of them). Imagine, he posits, that these protests continued for years,
“during which time the community of protesters divided into different factions, each with different beliefs, different demands, and different leaders. But the protests continued for so long that the protesters eventually built makeshift shanties and lived in them, and had children. These children grew up in the protesting communities, and then they too had children, who also grew up in the same communities of protesters, still encamped in the Wall Street district. Over the course of these generations, however, these communities of protesters forgot what it was that they were protesting.”
He continues with the make-believe:
What if Protestantism in its present form is the fractured remains of a Catholic protest movement that began in 1517, but which has long since forgotten not only what it was protesting, but that it was formed by Catholics, in protest over conditions and practices within the Catholic Church? What if Protestantism has forgotten that its original intention was to return to full communion with the Catholic Church when certain conditions were satisfied?
Well, what were those certain conditions? Martin Luther outlined them in no uncertain terms: “[W]e do not fight and damn them because of their bad lives …. I do not consider myself to be pious. But when it comes to whether one teaches correctly about the word of God, there I take my stand and fight. That is my calling. To contest doctrine has never happened until now. Others have fought over life; but to take on doctrine—that is to grab the goose by the neck! … When the word of God remains pure, even if the quality of life fails us, life is placed in a position to become what it ought. That is why everything hinges on the purity of the Word. I have succeeded only if I have taught correctly.” (Cited by Steven Ozment, “The Age of Reform, 1250–1550: An Intellectual and Religious History of Late Medieval and Reformation Europe” (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1980), pgs 315-316 (emphasis added).

In the real world, as in Bryan Cross’s make-believe world, the Roman Catholic Church does not “teach correctly about the Word of God”. And no amount of claiming “interpretive” mastery of the Scriptures fixes that.

But Bryan goes further, and puts make-believe limits on this, and note the bait-and switch. He does not then go on to prove that the Roman Catholic Church does “teach correctly about the Word of God”. What he does do is to imply, “Protestants don’t all agree on the correct teaching, therefore Rome’s method is correct.”

Let us begin to look at Bryan’s reasoning this way.

Consider, there is a totally correct way of understanding the Word of God. It is an ideal, whether anyone gets there or not. Let’s call this perfect understanding “X”.

Luther’s assertion is “Roman teaching is ~X. Roman teaching is “Y”. Even if Luther’s understanding is not quite “X”, it doesn't turn Rome’s teaching into “X”.

In fact, no amount of misunderstanding among Protestant fixes that Roman Catholic “~X”.

Bryan wants you to think, “Protestants disagree among themselves, therefore Roman Teaching is ‘X’”.

But that does not follow in any way.

From a Protestant perspective, it is very easy, among ourselves, to look at Biblical understanding among modern Biblical scholars – with the ever-better understanding of Greek and Hebrew languages, with the better and better historical understanding, and know that we are coming closer and closer to converging on “X”. Whereas, Rome has bought into “Y”, and “Y is ~X”, and “Y” will never be “X”. That’s the real life behind Bryan’s make-believe bait-and-switch story.

Bryan and his Roman Catholic friends are “hear[ing] but never understand[ing]”, seeing but never perceiving”. Their heart has grown dull, fixed on Rome’s “Y”, as it is, “and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed” to everything but Rome.

And thus, as ongoing generations of Protestants continue “to see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and “turn and be healed,” and we draw closer and closer to Luther’s “purity of the Word”.

My favorite Jeff Steinberg story

This is at a small church in central PA, where some of the footage from Jeff's documentary was filmed. I think this is the one and only video that exists of yours truly. My son made it on his cell phone, and that accounts for the quality.

At the start of the video, I was talking about the 1979 Ford Van that I used to drive. It had a dual gas tank, and the first tank was almost on empty. Our host, Carol, had booked Jeff on a Sunday for two church services, Sunday morning in Plattsburg, NY, and then in the evening, about three hours to the south. That's where this picks up, with me describing that trip between concerts:


New Feature Documentary on my friend Jeff Steinberg

I worked as Jeff Steinberg's driver, sound man and personal assistant from 1981-1985, (often scratching his back, which is what appears to be happening in the initial scene in the video here). Jeff was born with no arms and "barely a leg to stand on" as the advertising material says. Actually, he's got two legs, but they're not very good at all. Still, he makes them work, and in the process, he has managed to put together a singing career and ministry that has lasted 40 years now.


It's Jerry Falwell introducing him in the film. Jeff got a start on Falwell's "Old Time Gospel Hour" in the early 1970's, and he's been traveling and singing ever since. He mostly sings in churches, and he only asks that a love offering be taken. If anyone is interested, you can learn more at or contact him at

Down with evil corporations!

Who are the 1%?

I have no idea if the following is accurate:

But if it is, then is the Occupy Wall Street movement protesting against scientists, artists, people in media, athletes, professors, teachers, IT/computer geeks, engineers, blue collar workers, social service workers, farmers, ranchers, and even those who are "not working"?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Betting on a stacked deck

I’m going to make one more observation about the Cain controversy to make a larger point. I’m not making an observation specific to the Cain controversy. My point may or may not be applicable to Herman Cain.

It may seem self-evident that the innocent have nothing to hide. Nothing to fear from the truth. Truth is their friend. Truth is exculpatory.

Conversely, if you’re caught in a lie, that’s evidence that you’re guilty. The innocent have an incentive to tell the truth while the guilty have an incentive to lie.

However, life in a fallen world is more complicated. The innocent are motivated to tell the truth if the system protects the innocent and rewards their candor. If, however, the innocent have reason to distrust the system, then they have a disincentive to tell the truth.

Take campus speech codes. Suppose a student makes a factual, but politically incorrect statement that violates the campus speech code. The student is technically guilty. Yet he’s guilty of violating an unjust policy. A policy that rewards politically correct lies while punishing politically taboo truths

He is innocent of actual wrongdoing. He said nothing intrinsically wrong. Indeed, he stated a fact.

But he now has an inducement to deny what he said, not because what he said was wrong, but because, even though what he said was right, that will be wrongly held against him. When saying or doing the right thing is inculpatory, the innocent have an innocent reason to dissimulate. Put another way, if the game is rigged, is it honest or dishonest to play by the rules?

For the moment I’m not discussing the morality of dissimulation under these circumstances. But just pointing out an easily overlooked facet of human psychology. If fessing up gets you in trouble, even though you did nothing wrong, then that creates a dilemma for the accused.

A feminist on sexual harassment

Winners, Losers, Misses

Ladies, time to man up

The Real Cain Scandal

Anonymous sources


But you keep drawing conclusions about Cain's critics without waiting for evidence from a trial. Why would we need such evidence? Do you apply the same reasoning to other areas of life, like Jesus' resurrection?
Are you aware that some of the arguments you and others are using against Cain's critics are highly similar to arguments that are often brought against Christianity (e.g., the anonymity of early Christian sources, the possibility that early Christian sources are wrong, the notion that the evidence for Christianity doesn't meet modern legal standards)?

This is Jason’s most significant objection–significant because it raises a serious issue over and above the ephemeral Cain controversy. So I’ll address it separately.

This is a comment that Jason directed at Wintery Knight rather than me, but it’s worth discussing in its own right.

i) It’s hard to address Jason’s comparison in general, for the validity or invalidity of the comparison will necessarily turn on the specifics in any given case.

ii) I don’t think anonymous sources are inherently suspect. Whether or not anonymity is suspect is contingent on more specific or topical considerations.

iii) Except for Hebrews, I don’t think the NT is anonymous. So I don’t grant the premise of the critics.

iv) But perhaps Jason means that even if the four gospels, or Acts, or 1 Corinthians, is not anonymous, these documents incorporate anonymous sources.

Whether or not that’s suspect depends on the motivation.

a) For instance, scribes are typically anonymous. That’s not suspect, for there’s no expectation that scribes would sign their work. That’s not a part of scribal culture. They were hirelings. The author, who dictated the material, got the credit.

b) Likewise, one reason (maybe the primary reason) a historian like Luke won’t name his sources is that Luke isn’t simply writing history, but narrative history. He’s telling the reader a story. To interrupt the story by naming his sources would take the reader out the narrative. Break the narrative flow. Disrupt the continuity of the story.

c) Another potential reason for anonymity is if the document is circulated to a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else–like a small town. In-house literature. That’s perfectly innocent.

d) Yet another potential motivation for anonymity is fear of retribution. That motivation can be honest or dishonest–depending on the circumstances.

On the one hand you may have the whistleblower or undercover informant who is doing a good thing by exposing crime or corruption, but also has good reason for fear for his safety if he goes public.

On the other hand, you may have an unscrupulous accuser who wishes to retain anonymity because his allegation wouldn’t survive scrutiny if it were traceable.

e) This also goes to testimonial evidence generally. What does the witness have to gain or lose by telling the truth? What does the witness have to gain or lose by lying?

iv) I assume Jason is alluding to Bauckham’s thesis that NT writer sometime use anonymous sources to protect their sources at a time when Christians were subject to persecution. That’s an innocent motivation.

v) To what extent the Cain controversy is analogous to these considerations is something one would have to argue for (or against) piece-by-piece.

vi) There’s a prima facie presumption that the more accusers who come forward, the more likely it is that basic allegation is true. That establishes a pattern. The accused has a modus operandi.

vii) But that has to be counterbalanced against other considerations.

Are accusers coming forward? Or do we have spokesmen for accusers coming forward? It’s not the accuser, but the spokesman, who’s coming forward.

In principle, an accuser can have a valid reason to shield his or her identity. But by the same token, we’re not really dealing with the accuser. That doesn’t count as another accuser.

Rather, we’re dealing with a spokesman (e.g. lawyer, reporter) who presumes to speak for the accuser. The spokesman attributes statements to the accuser, who attributes statements to the accused.

Allegations are leveled against the accused. But by the same token, if the accuser is anonymous, then it’s really an allegation by an alleged accuser.

That doesn’t mean the allegations are false. But between the anonymous accuser and me is a filter. All I have to go by is the filter. The spokesman.

viii) If the accuser actually comes forward, then we have to assess the credibility of the accuser. And, of course, we must also assess the credibility of the accused.

ix) Are the accusers coming forward spontaneously? Or is this orchestrated? Are they, in a sense, recruited? Or did they take the initiative? If it’s spontaneous, that carries more prima facie weight.

x) Cain could well be guilty. Some men in positions of power exploit their position for sexual gain. Examples are endless. That's as old as dirt. So that’s a plausible scenario.

xi) But there are other plausible scenarios. The base of the Democrat party consists of core constituents and special-interest groups, viz. blacks, women, latinos, unions, trial lawyers. It’s a threat to the political viability of the Democrat party and the liberal establishment if the conservative movement can produce rivals. That’s why the liberal establishment tried to destroy Clarence Thomas and Sarah Palin. That’s why Congressional Democrats refused to put Miguel Estrada’s nomination up for a vote.

(BTW, I have no opinion on who was telling the truth in the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill imbroglio.)

There’s a vested interest in destroying a black conservative like Cain by any means necessary.

That doesn’t mean he’s innocent. But that’s one of the factors you have to take into account when you access the credibility of anonymous accusers or even named accusers and their handlers. Are they just being put up to this? What, if anything, do they get in return?

xii) Likewise, the liberal establishment is trying to redefine manhood and womanhood. Sexual harassment suits can be a political tool to intimate. To coerce social change. You have power politics in academia and the workforce as well as the campaign trail. So that’s another factor we need to consider. That may dovetail with other factors. 

Called to Communion? Or called to be abused, only to have the “infallible” church cover it up?

The contrast now cannot be more clear. A mere five days after learning of sexual abuse in its midst, the board of trustees of a backwoods university met, convened, and fired both the president of the university and a legendary head football coach for failing to protect young people in the midst of a sexual molester. We are talking one molester, at least a handful of enablers, and a dozen or more victims. This was a clear, quick, and decisive response on the part of the university.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church, which had policies for decades, if not centuries, to cover up such abuse, to move abusers from place to place, to enable abusers to continue to violate the young and the innocent, in the most heinous of ways, in the name of protecting “the Church”, just this week celebrated the life and ministry of Cardinal Bernard Law, who, among other things, “in 2005 participated in the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as Pope.” Law is perhaps THE most notorious of the protectors of abusers. But there are many, many more like him.

Do you Roman Catholics yet understand that we are not talking about the abusers themselves, as heinous as their acts are. We are talking about the bishops and the very church Canon Law policies that hushed up, covered up, centuries-worth of sexual malfeasance. We are talking about more than hundreds of bishops worldwide, and thousands of victims. We are not talking about abuse at the fringes of this “society”. We are talking about the very heart and soul and law and fabric of the Roman Catholic “faith”.

Those of you who defend Rome, let me ask you. What more could Rome have done? In the name of Christ, what should you be doing in the face of such a cover-up? Scott Hahn and Bryan Cross and Devin Rose and Taylor Marshall and Mark Shea and Dave Armstrong and “Catholic Answers” and all of you who are defending the Roman Catholic Church and trying to win converts to it ought to stop now what you’re doing and demand, that Rome itself repent for the sins it has committed, and to make restitution – real restitution – for the evil that its own laws and policies have perpetuated for centuries. And while you’re at it, you ought to examine your own lives and beliefs and motives. Because no artificial distinction between “dogma” and “discipline”, or “doctrine” and “canon law” can account for the pure and simple evil that Rome both perpetuates and hides over with folded hands and a smiling face.

It’s true that many lawsuits have wrung hundreds of millions of dollars from the bosoms of Roman dioceses. But those were not real payments for “the church”. They were largely paid by insurance companies. And the smiling, abusing faces of Roman Bishops, shuffled to their new positions, escape with their exalted positions and earthly glory intact. It is time, now, in this generation, to cut off the Roman charade, so that future generations are not subjected to its faithless abuses.

Christ didn’t call anyone to “communion”. Yes, he prayed for unity. But he called people to repentance. It was in repentance and faith that they would find unity. Not under the robes of abusive Roman priests and bishops and cardinals.

For anyone who wonders, this is close to home for me. Rev. John Wellinger, in the selection that follows, is the second pastor of the parish that I grew up in. He married my wife and me, and he baptized my two oldest children:
Wellinger affair Rev. John W. Wellinger, ordained 1970, pastor at Holy Spirit parish in West Mifflin, was accused by parents of molesting their son, kissing, fondling and performing a sex act on the 11-year-old altar boy in 1989, 1995. They said diocesan officials told them he would be removed from ministry but he continued in the priesthood for up to seven more years. The diocese, for its part, insists Wellinger has not functioned as a priest since the 1995 accusation. Wellinger took a personal leave June 1995. Three months later a young man came forward to allege that Wellinger had abused him in 1989. Diocese banned Wellinger from active priesthood March 2003 when he failed to return from leave (for health purposes).
1. Wellinger lawsuit Suit filed 2004. Claims included in Diocese's September 2007 $1.25 million settlement as to 32 plaintiffs alleging abuse by 17 priests.

2. Ference accusation Former Catholic priest John Wellinger possibly having sexually abused the boy who shot Adam Ference on a Catholic school bus, then killed himself.

3. Mathews accusation Wellinger was reported to the Pittsburgh Diocese in 1995 for sexually abusing Chris Mathews, an 11-year-old altar boy at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin. “The boy’s parents first met with current Pittsburgh Diocese Bishop Zubik to voice their concerns, but little was done. It was not until 2003 that the Pittsburgh Catholic (official publication of the Pittsburgh Diocese) acknowledged that a sexual abuse crime “may have been committed.” By then, as with so many of these cases, the statute of limitations had expired for prosecuting the crime.

4. Witkowski accusation, Greg Witkowski, a 16-year-old boy from West Mifflin, PA, whose family were members of Holy Spirit, Welllinger’s parish assignment, was fed drugs and alcohol by Wellinger, possibly even assaulted. The Witkowski was able to break away from Wellinger and made his way to Shadyside Hospital emergency room (now part of UPMC). He was treated by the staff; his parents Robert and Ann Witkowski were summoned and advised of the criminal acts by Wellinger. The parents were advised not to call police and press charges, or challenge the Pittsburgh Diocese as the church had too much money and was much too powerful.
At a meeting we had with him at the rectory in 1991, Wellinger licked my three-year-old son’s face. (He was pretending to be a puppy dog. Parents: let this be a caution to you that you can’t be too careful with your kids.)

Here are some more local stories:

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, under whose watchful care all of this occurred, is now Cardinal Archbishop of Washington DC.

Who are the trustees of the Roman Catholic Church, but those who trusted it and were betrayed by it in the worst kind of way? Who are those who are crying for justice, who have not gotten it from the hand of the organization that claims to be the very sacrament of salvation?

Rome has taken half-steps to try to mollify the pain, but it is clear that the larger goal of its efforts is simply to perpetuate itself and its system in power.

See also: Cardinal Law’s Birthday Party

Roman Apologists. If you truly believe in Christ, as you claim to do, what should you be doing right at this moment? How should you respond to the Roman Church?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Bart before the horse


Notice that when flood geologists postulate these mechanisms to account for biogeography, they are ridiculed by the evolutionary community–but when Darwinians confront the same logistical issues, they help themselves to the same postulates:

Ron Paul's secret weapon in the war on terror

Turek interviews Craig

Does the Enns justify the memes?

I'm reposting some comments I left at Jim Hamilton's blog.


steve hays November 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

According to Paul Seely:

“And it is precisely because ancient peoples were scientifically naive that they did not distinguish between the appearance of the sky and their scientific concept of the sky. They had no reason to doubt what their eyes told them was true, namely, that the stars above them were fixed in a solid dome and that the sky literally touched the earth at the horizon. So, they equated appearance with reality and concluded that the sky must be a solid physical part of the universe just as much as the earth itself.”

Let’s put that to the test. To take a few examples:

i) According to the diagram supplied by Peter Enns, ancient Near Easterners supposedly thought a divine palace was floating above the firmament.

Question: Did any ancient Near Easterners ever observe a divine palace floating above the firmament? Is that what the world looked like?

ii) An implication of this diagram is that heavenly beings (e.g. angels) came down through windows in the firmament. But does Peter Enns or Paul Seely think ancient Near Easterners ever observed heavenly beings coming down through windows the firmament (or going back up the same way)?

iii) According to Babylonian mythology, Marduk split Tiamat (the sea goddess) in two, using one half to roof the sky, while her breasts formed the mountains, the Tigris and Euphrates were her tears, and clouds were her spittle.

Is this because that’s what their eyes told them?

iv) Mesopotamian art contains depictions of griffins, centaurs, lion-centaurs, lion-dragons, snake-dragons, humanoid scorpions, mermen, a seven-headed snake monster, and so on. Is that because ancient Near Easterners were used to observing these creatures in real life? Was that a part of their empirical experience?

Same thing with Mayan or Egyptian iconography. Is that a reflection of how the world appeared to them?

v) According to the diagram, the netherworld is a subterranean cave or cavern. Did ancient Near Easterners depict the world that way because they saw the shades of the dead wandering around the underworld? Is that what their eyes told them?

vi) According to the diagram, the earth is supported by submarine pylons. Did ancient Near Easterners depict the world that way because ancient skin-divers swam under the earth and saw the earth supported by pylons? Is that what their eyes told them?

But Seely and Enns don’t believe it was possible for ancient Near Easterners to experience the world in that way, since they don’t believe that’s how the world is configured.

steve hays November 8, 2011 at 7:51 am #
Chris Skinner

“Nevertheless, isn’t it possible that two well-intentioned, well-educated, intelligent, devoted Christian scholars can look at the same evidence and disagree on what’s there?”

Actually, these are fundamentally asymmetrical positions. As Peter Enns himself recently conceded:

“If one accepts evolution, the first thing to note is that one has left the biblical worldview. I think this is an obvious point, but needs to be stated clearly. As soon as evolution is accepted, the invariably result is some clear movement away from what the Bible says about Adam.”

So by his own admission, Enns is making a clean break with the viewpoint of Scripture. Hence, that’s not a difference of opinion regarding the meaning of Scripture, but whether or not we accept the meaning of Scripture.

steve hays November 8, 2011 at 8:45 am #

“Contextual data is relevant for establishing ranges of cultural codes, sensitivities, ways different kinds of discourse are used, etc., to help calibrate out interpretive questions for reading Genesis 1 (to stick with that example).”

Which doesn’t yield belief in a solid dome.

i) For instance, John Currid has argued that OT cosmography employs architectural metaphors. Cf. Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament, 43.

ii) Beale has extended this approach in terms of cosmic temple imagery.

So citing intertextual considerations doesn’t select for your position rather than Currid’s or Beale’s.

steve hays November 8, 2011 at 11:20 am #

“Just for fun, Beale’s so-called approach works primarily from Jon Levenson’s and other ANE scholars’ work on ancient mythic cosmography and cosmology. Beale simply removes the word ‘myth’ from his account and also doesn’t mention that the scholars whose work he draws upon also consider Genesis to be participating in the various kinds of cosmological ideas that Beale rejects.”

Just for fun, you might trying drawing some rudimentary distinctions:

i) For starters, distinguishing the significance of something in the primary source from the significance of something in the secondary source. For instance, Solomon’s temple incorporates various ANE architectural motifs. But that doesn’t mean they retain the same symbolic import. There’s a process of transvaluation.

ii) Likewise, you also beg the question regarding how “mythic” cosmography was understood by Egyptians, Mesopotamians, et al.

To take a comparison, when we study Mayan hieroglyphs, it would be silly to assume the artist thought that was a literal description of the world. It’s clearly stylized. It didn’t resemble the world he saw.

steve hays November 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm #
One thing I’d point out is that Enns is drawing a false dichotomy. It’s not just Mohler who distinguishes between appearance and reality. Astronomers tell us that when we look at stars, we’re not seeing the star as it is, but as it was, many millions or even billions of years ago. The star is actually far older than it looks, if you factor in the amount of time it took for that image to reach us.

Although we see the star now, we’re not seeing the star as it is right now. There’s a vast time lag. So, according to modern astronomy, appearances are deceptive.

Enns, no less than Mohler, must distinguish between appearance and reality: apparent age and real age.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm #
Enns says apparent age makes the facts fit the theory. I’d simply point out that when both naturalistic evolution and theistic evolution employ methodological naturalism, that methodology also makes the facts fit the theory. The only facts that are allowed to count as evidence for a scientific theory are naturalistic facts.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

So on your philosophy of science, the aim of the scientific method is not to discover the true cause of some effect, but to stipulate in advance of the evidence what the world can or can’t be like.

On your view, even if a miracle was the true explanation for the crime, your methodology commits you to excluding the true explanation.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

So you’re telling us that cosmology and paleontology are unscientific inasmuch as they reconstruct the past, which is unrepeatable.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

How does your criterion of repeatability square with your hypothetical regarding the crime scene? Say a murder occurred. Is the murder repeatable?

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm #
Don Johnson

“This is because a miracle by its very nature cannot be reliably repeated. What science will do in that case is be silent.”

How can science know ahead of time what is or isn’t repeatable? You’re assuming the future resembles the past, but, of course, that’s not something you can inductively establish.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

That’s not an intellectually responsible answer. Try to present a serious reply.

“No, the preferred way to do science is to do repeatable experiments, but sometimes that is not possible. But there are other ways to do science. I think you know this.”

If there are other ways to do science, then your repeatability criterion was not a scientific criterion in the first place.

You keep making armchair claims about science, then introducing ad hoc caveats when challenged. You’re making up the definition as you go along.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

Here is how it works. You raise an objection, I answer you on your own terms.

For instance, the Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Science has an entry on “induction and the uniformity of nature” in which the contributor admits that the problem of induction remains an insoluble conundrum in the philosophy of science.

So your dismissive statement about my “skepticism” indicates that you’re the one who’s not up on the issues.

Yes, I’m asking you leading questions to expose your inadequate philosophy of science. Yes, I know how to answer my own questions because the answers make a hash of your position. It’s called the Socratic method.

Finally, you’re the one who’s reducing science to a game with arbitrary, made-up rules that don’t correspond to reality. Science is supposed to be a descriptive discipline. Based on observation. Methodological naturalism is prescriptive. It’s fundamentally unscientific.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm #
Don Johnson

“If you really believe what you are saying, then you should live it and decline to use the advances of science.”

That reflects a terribly naive philosophy of science on your part. I’d suggest you read somebody like Bas van Fraassen.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 11:19 am #
Or, like the Atheist Missionary, you can hide behind intellectual rhetoric, but never back up your claims with suitable arguments.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm #
The Atheist Missionary

“Steve, where is the rhetoric? If you disagree with the observation I made in my first comment, please explain why.”

What’s the topic of this post, TAM? Whether or not Scripture teaches a flat earth. How did you respond? By making this a choice between scientific evidence and the veracity of Scripture.

But that would only be relevant if Hamilton was defending the thesis Scripture teaches a flat earth. Since the point of his post was to oppose that thesis, how is it unscientific for Hamilton to deny the flatness of the earth?

For a rationalist, reasoning isn’t your strong suit.

“I rely on the authority of those who are specialists in their fields of endeavour to support my beliefs (as do you in most other facets of your life).”

So you rely on the authority of scientifically trained writers like Andrew Snelling, Kurt Wise, Marcus Ross, John Byl, and Jonathan Sarfati to support young-earth creationism.

steve hays November 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm #
Regarding Hamilton’s allegedly condescending, dismissive tone, or questioning the motives of Enns, it’s revealing that Hamilton’s critics don’t apply the same yardstick to the tone adopted by Peter Enns, which epitomizes the very faults they impute to Hamilton:

But, of course, they share the outlook of Enns, so they give him a pass.